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The Face of Hate: DEI, Witch Hunts, and the New McCarthyism
During the late 1940s through the mid-1950s Americans lived through a period known to some as the Second Red Scare but to most as McCarthyism. During this time federal, state, and local governments, as well as many private agencies established "loyalty review boards" which undertook investigations into the existence of Communists in their workforces.
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The most famous examples of McCarthyism include investigations conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). During this period, due process fell by the wayside as simple accusations were often enough to cost someone their job, destroy their career and livelihood, and result in their addition to blacklists.
In 1954, McCarthy picked a fight with the Army and during the ensuing Army-McCarthy hearings, finally crossed paths with someone who wouldn’t be bullied, attorney Joseph Welch. On June 9, 1954, when McCarthy tried to smear one of Welch's attorneys as a communist, Welch uttered lines that would end McCarthy's career: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"
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While it may feel to some that we are once again living through a period of political persecution, it is not the case. The government is not actively trying to weed people out of public service for their political beliefs. This is not to say that we aren’t faced with persecution, many of us are, however instead of being persecuted for our political beliefs by the government, we are being persecuted and bullied by a small group of radicals operating in both the public and private sectors.
This persecution is much more insidious than McCarthyism as it is less subject to government control. Like McCarthyism, these witch trials can result in loss of jobs, the destruction of careers and livelihoods, and subjects its victims to the modern equivalent of blacklists and cancellation. I am, of course, referring to DEI “training” and the consultant witchfinders who make lucrative salaries bullying innocent people and branding the unfortunates as racists and white supremacists.
If you have worked in a Canadian or American corporation during the last ten or so years you have likely been forced to attend one of these sessions. If you are one of the lucky ones, you merely had to sit quietly while you were inundated with a list of your sins and told how Canada/the USA is a white supremacist society.
The truly unfortunate are those that are singled out for additional abuse and required to participate in “struggle sessions” in which they either must confess their sins or are berated for any pushback regarding how racist society truly is. One such session, led by Kiki Ojo-Thompson, has been in the news lately.
On April 26, 2021, during anti-racism training led by Ojo-Thompson, Richard Bilkszto, who had experience living and teaching in both the US and Canada, attempted to disagree with Ojo-Thompson’s statement that Canada is a more racist country than the US because it “never reckoned with its anti-black history.”
Audio files reveal that in response to Bilkszto’s comment that Canada is a less racist society than the US, Ojo-Thompson responded by berating Bilkszto, stating “We are here to talk about anti-black racism, but you in your whiteness think that you can tell me what's really going on for black people.” She continued her attacks in a session the following week describing Bilkszto’s comments as a “real life” example of someone supporting white supremacy.
The next day Bilkszto went on sick leave. What followed according to Bilkszto was the loss of his contract and the destruction of his reputation. A Workplace Safety and Insurance Board investigation ultimately found that Ojo-Thompson's conduct was “abusive, egregious and vexatious, and rises to the level of workplace harassment and bullying.” However, it was clearly not enough as Bilkszto took his own life on July 13th. Ojo-Thompson and her KOJO Institute used it as advertising to promote her grift, releasing a statement saying:
“This incident is being weaponized to discredit and suppress the work of everyone committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. While the coverage by right-wing media of this controversy is disappointing and led to our organization and team members receiving threats and vitriol online, we will not be deterred from our work in building a better society for everyone.”
Bilkszto is not a hero. He is not Giles Corey who when given the choice between death by pressing or confessing to a sin he had not committed, cried “more weight!” He was simply a man with an understanding that the world is complex and who believed that if we are to make it a better place the truth matters. Proof and due process matter as well. At the height of McCarthyism, famed broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow concluded one of his See It Now episodes by stating:
We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.
We have no Congressional Hearings to focus our attention on today, no government oversight to potentially reign in fanatics. We have little hope that the media, which often appears all in on this woke nonsense, might step up and say, “you have done enough!”
Instead, we have only ourselves and our desire that, when we look in the mirror, we see someone we respect looking back. This is not heroism, but it often requires courage. It is time for each of us to look inward and find that courage. We will need it to resist these DEI charlatans who would earn their blood money through dishonesty and bullying, confident in their belief that we will simply sit there and take it. I believe their confidence is misplaced.
I believe many of us have had enough and are ready to put a stop to the hate, to stand up to the Ojo-Thompsons of the world and utter defiantly “have you no shame? Have you no sense of decency?"